Robert Lyman is a fascinating man with a broad and deep scope of military history. We covered a lot of ground and went into some interesting philosophical places together. I was really struck by his wisdom and ability to communicate complex topics so easily. His latest book, Among The Headhunters, came to my attention through my father who was a part of the mission there during World War Two.
Born in New Zealand in 1963 Dr Robert Lyman was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He spent twenty years as an officer in the British Army. He has degrees from the universities of York, Wales (Aberystwyth), Cranfield, London (King’s College) and East Anglia. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has been passionate about history ever since he can remember. He writes (and reads) for pleasure.
He has been a trustee for many years of the Kohima Educational Trust, which provides educational support to young learners in Nagaland. He lectures as far afield as York and Taipei, and is a regular contributor to TV documentaries and current affairs programmes. He is represented by Charlie Viney.
About his book: Flying the notorious “Hump” route between India and China in 1943, a twin-engine plane suffered mechanical failure and crashed in a dense mountain jungle, deep within Japanese-held territory. Among the passengers and crew were celebrated CBS journalist Eric Sevareid, an OSS operative who was also a Soviet double agent, and General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell’s personal political adviser. Against the odds, all but one of the twenty-one people aboard the doomed aircraft survived- it remains the largest civilian evacuation of an aircraft by parachute. But they fell from the frying pan into the fire.
Disentangling themselves from their parachutes, the shocked survivors discovered that they had arrived in wild country dominated by a tribe with a special reason to hate white men. The Nagas were notorious headhunters who routinely practiced slavery and human sacrifice, their specialty being the removal of enemy heads. Japanese soldiers lay close by, too, with their own brand of hatred for Americans. Among the Headhunters tells- for the first time- the incredible true story of the adventures of these men among the Naga warriors, their sustenance from the air by the USAAF, and their ultimate rescue.
It is also a story of two very different worlds colliding- young Americans, exuberant apostles of their country’s vast industrial democracy, coming face-to-face with the Naga, an ancient tribe determined to preserve its local power based on headhunting and slaving.